Cheval Residences is top ranked serviced apartment brand for second year running in sector digital benchmark report

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 18 November 2016

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Yesterday saw the launch of the second annual Serviced Apartment Digital Benchmark Report, published by Serviced Apartment News and Travel Intelligence Network.

The report, sponsored by Avvio, set out to assess serviced apartment brands' digital marketing activities; quantify the social media reach of the top 50 serviced apartment brands, and compare how the sector is progressing when benchmarked against leading hotel and travel brands.

The report, first launched last year, examined 50 serviced apartment brands (operators and agent) of varying size and location. As well as looking at their social media performance, the report evaluated their online reputation and ranking across a range of categories, using 485,000 review from across the web, all made between September 1st 2015 and August 31 2016. These reviews were analysed using ReviewPro's GRI index, and came from from 175 OTAs and review sites in 45 languages.

For the second year running, Cheval Residences topped the table, with a combined GRI score of 93.3 per cent, up from 92.3 per last year. The top 10 ranked brands included several new entrants, including AKA (2), Roomzzz (3), Derag (5), SACO (7), and Fraser Place (9).

Mark Harris of The Travel Intelligence Network gave an invited audience at the IDeaS Innovation centre in London, an overview of the report's findings.
These included:
• The role of the website in the hospitality sector is changing
• Growing consumer demand for personalisation…
• The process is increasingly a 1-2-1 conversation.
• If you were on the site yesterday we need to remember you.
• Key is cost of getting customer to website and how to convert.
• Every visit is an opportunity to do or say something different.

A panel discussion, hosted by Harris, then featured Michael Kessler of ReviewPro, Edel Hayes of Avvio, and Jo Redman of SACO.

Kessler emphasised the importance of operators collecting reviews to use on their own websites, which will help them make conversion and direct bookings. "Content equals conversion," said Kessler. "It helps a looker become a booker. Regular reviews also help maintain a company's ranking on TripAdvisor, OTAs and Google."

Jo Redman highlighted the increasing influence of Bloggers, who can promote a company or property a huge online following. The key to successfully appealing to them is to have "lots of unique, interesting content, updated regularly," she said.

Hayes stressed that too many companies take a piecemeal approach to social media, when a clearly defined strategy is what is needed. "Do an audit of your company and how you use social media. Set yourself targets," she said.

During a Q&A with the audience, it became clear that the way corporate travellers are booking serviced apartments is changing, with reviews and social media becoming increasingly important in this sphere. Companies such as Google and Facebook have very different travel strategies from a traditional blucher company, said Redman: "Corporate travellers are increasingly booking through OTAs - b2c online business doesn't necessarily mean leisure business."

Redman added: "We have to keep learning from the OTAs. They are very clever, they sound a lot of money on technology. We need total the best of what they are doing and adapt it to your business."

The panel then moved on to the subject of personalisation. Michael Kessler said: "Personalisation is key for future customers and generations. Reviews have got to be relevant to them." Kessler also said that the technology of the future for the industry is already available - "brands just need to know how to use it."

And finally, the discussion returned to content - seemingly the essence of the digital marketing arena - with hayes saying: "Content needs to be targeted to customers according to where they are from. Create content based around your different groups of clients, creating personas."

Redman summed up the panel by saying: "Get your content right - then wherever it is used it reflects the brand correctly."

Download the Serviced Apartments Digitial Marketing Presentation from our 3-in-1 event here.

A PDF version of the 2016 Serviced Apartment Digital Benchmark Report worth £299 can be downloaded here.

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